Friday, December 29, 2006

A Pre-Christmas Anecdote

With all the mishegas of the holiday season I haven't taken much time out for reading, writing or arithmetic. (Rush Limbaugh likes to say readin', 'ritin', 'rithmetic and Rush are the four Rs of a good education. I do love listening to him rant about how Democrats control the weather.) So to tide everyone over until I can get down to some serious 'ritin', here's a wee story from the week I was trying to get out of DC...

I had been trying to get an interview with Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex.) for a few weeks, especially after the election, because he's in line to chair the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee next year and a lot of environmental issues flow through that august chamber. (It covers preparations for battle, including training range weapons firing involving eventual cleanup.) I had tried not to badger his office too much -- although he cruised to re-election, I don't doubt he had bigger fish to fry than my questions about the Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative -- but after the immediate election aftermath was over and I was looking for next-day stories I needed something to come through. I was about to start a fresh round of barely disguised pleading when his office called me and offered a phone interview the next day. This doesn't usually happen when you're in my position. You typically have to cajole press secretaries until they remember who you are through sheer attrition; so them calling me out of the blue was a nice gesture. The next day, sure enough, Ortiz calls me -- from his truck out on a highway in Texas somewhere. I can hear the air rushing through his window. His press person is conferenced in from Washington. There we all are, getting down to business, when the flack says "Excuse me, everyone. Mr. Ortiz, the Speaker-elect is looking for you." So I'm on hold for five minutes while he talks to Nancy Pelosi about who knows what. Then I get my interview.

This is not a story with a punchline. It's what my day is like when things are interesting.


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